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article imageIndia drugs giant rejects Novartis patent accusations

By AFP     Apr 4, 2014 in Health

Leading Indian drug company Biocon on Friday rejected allegations by Novartis that it infringed on the Swiss pharmaceutical giant's patent for its blockbuster diabetes drug Galvus.

Novartis announced Thursday it was seeking an injunction in the Delhi High Court to stop Biocon from launching a generic version of Galvus, also known as Vildagliptin.

The case against Biocon is the latest legal salvo in a campaign by global drugmakers against India's huge copycat drugs industry, which big pharmaceutical companies say reduces commercial incentives to produce cutting-edge medicines.

"Biocon has a reputation for respecting all valid IP (intellectual property) and intends to operate within the parameters of applicable IP laws in India and elsewhere," the Indian company said in an emailed statement to AFP.

"Biocon has not been issued any injunction on Vildagliptin; nor has Biocon launched the product in India. There is no impact on our immediate plans for this product," Biocon added.

The company, based in the southern high-tech city of Bangalore, did not elaborate.

India's huge generic drug industry is a major supplier of cheaper copycat medicines to treat diabetes, cancer and other diseases afflicting its vast poor population who cannot afford expensive branded versions, as well as to other parts of the world.

India also has some of the world's toughest patent laws.

Galvus, one of Novartis' top-selling drugs globally with sales of $1.2 billion last year, is used to treat Type 2 diabetes, which typically strikes later in life and is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

India has one of the largest number of diabetes sufferers in the world, making it a huge market for drugmakers.

Novartis said in an emailed statement it had filed a case earlier in the week seeking an injunction against Biocon for alleged "infringement of the Indian basic compound patent" of Vildagliptin.

Novartis said the Delhi court had ordered Biocon not to "manufacture, sell or export Vildigliptin for commercial purposes" until the next court hearing. The date of the hearing was not immediately disclosed.

"A robust and predictable intellectual property (IP) system is an essential pillar of an innovative" pharmaceutical sector, Novartis added.

India has some of the world's toughest patent laws.

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